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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Creating Jupiter Tonans

I've been asked a lot lately to describe better the process I use to create my digital art. The problem with this is that every single piece develops in totally different ways and digital artists use a variety of programs to create their work.

So rather than try to create tutorials around the process, I'm going to post single pieces of work and talk about the process for that one piece.

Jupiter Tonans is part of the Low Res Art Project. Rarely does a piece in this series start out with a specific idea or theme. In this case the starter image for the piece was a screen capture from a youtube video of a Roman Villa. The concept of using Jupiter as the theme came much later.

With all work in the Low Res project, the first step is resizing the image from a small screen capture, to something much larger. The biggest mistake I see artists make is in trying to change the original image without taking into account the size. So everything ends up looking blocky and pixelated.

Once the resizing is complete then the clean up phase begins. With this image the first thing that needed to be removed with the large number of people who could be seen walking around the villa. Once they were removed then the image is crisped up a bit. I am a big one on accentuating line work. Note the way the roof stands out and the line work in the pillars is thick. This makes the image much more 3 dimensional.

After the cleanup stage is finished, I end up with quite a clean image that is much like a canvas would be for a painting where all you've done is sketch in the lines before applying the paint. Even the original sky over the villa was removed and left transparent.

Now begins a layering process. I choose my layers based on the original color scheme of the base image. In this case, greens and reds were dominant. Blues work very well with this color combination, so I chose layers that worked with that.

In the case of this piece, I layered 3 other images over the first to create various effects. These include the blue/black sky and the foglike blues and reds behind the pillars. Each layer is created with its own effects to compliment the base image until I feel like I've changed the original base image.

If I am in my zone, I begin to get a glimpse of themes for the piece as I design the layers. With this piece I started to get a distinct feeling that that villa was no longer just a house, but temple. The fog layering made it feel distinctly godlike.

I could have stopped there with a basic but nice piece. But it seemed empty to me. It needed some godlike form to it. Because the villa is Roman, I then went out to look at potential god images. Now this is trickier because you need to be conscientious of copyright violations. So I focused my search on images of Roman gods that predated 1920 (this is the copyright violation date. Work after that date is protected by copyright). Most image of Roman gods are in ancient sculpture work so I focused my search on ancient statuary.

Now here is where the theme of the piece snapped into place. I found this statute of the Roman god Jupiter. Specifically this is Jupiter Tonans also known as Thunder Jove.

Now it becomes tricky. Their are hundreds of images of this statue and its creator seems lost in antiquity. Once the image is on my desktop it has to go through a lot of work to bring out or remove some of the details. There is almost as much work done on this as there is on the piece as a whole. 

There were things I wanted out of the image. One was that I wanted it to seem statue like, but also have some of the characteristics of both ghost and being. A rusted red with gray and white was chosen to meet with all these criteria. Most of this work was done before the image was moved to the piece of art.

Jupiter was moved around a lot. He was further back in the image and in the center before he came to rest to the right of the base image. I was reluctant to place him there because it unbalanced the piece. This was the primary reason for adding the lightning bolts. It re-balanced the image.

With the inclusion of the lightning I felt the image was complete. Mind you that there are about a thousand little steps not mentioned here to create the finished image. In fact with this piece there are 17 different saved versions from start to finish. I've had pieces with as many as 50 different variations and others with as little 5. Every piece is different.

With that said, the piece is complete. It will go through various maintenance steps including adding borders, logos and names  before it is ready to be added officially to the portfolio.

One last thing to note. While the theme for this piece came about half way through the process, it also lent ideas to an overall theme for other works of Roman ruins. This is how a good series comes together.

Feel free to leave questions or comments. Digital Art is still an emerging field with about a zillion things to explore. If you feel this brief tutorial was helpful, let me know. I'll continue to post them.


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